Archie Miller

No. 11 Dayton upsets No. 3 Syracuse

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Dyshawn Pierre led No. 11 seed Dayton with 14 points and Tyler Ennis missed a pair of go-ahead jumpers in the final 20 seconds as the Flyers upset No. 3 Syracuse in the Round of 32, 55-53.

The win sends the Flyers to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years. They’ll play the winner of tomorrow afternoon’s game between No. 2 Kansas and No. 10 Stanford.

“Every time you advance it feels a little better,” Dayton head coach Archie Miller told TBS after the game. In the opening round, he beat his former boss, Ohio State head coach Thad Matta. “If you’re going to beat Syracuse in here you need a little bit of luck, and fortunately the last one didn’t go in.”

The Flyers are now the lone representative of the Atlantic 10, a conference that had six teams dance, remaining in the tournament.

The win may be bittersweet for Dayton fans, however. Regardless of what happens the rest of this tournament, Miller may not be in Dayton all that much longer. His coaching pedigree is as good as any young coach in the country, and he’s the younger brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller, and he’s now taken the Flyers from a team that was expected to finish in the middle of the pack in the A-10 to the second weekend of the Big Dance.

That’s impressive enough to get a phone call from Marquette, Wake Forest, Boston College or one of the other high major jobs that opened up this month. At the very least, Miller just earned himself a hefty raise.

The first 25 minutes of this game were about as difficult to watch as NCAA tournament basketball gets, as Dayton couldn’t figure out Syracuse’s defense and Syracuse, frankly, couldn’t figure out their own offense. The Flyers began to get better ball movement, and thus better shots, against Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone midway through the second half, right around the same time that Ennis finally figured out that he was going to have to start being people off the dribble if the Orange were going to score.

What was confusing, however, was the fact that Ennis opted not to try and drive on the final two possessions. He was not only getting into the paint at will late in the second half, he was starting to get the kind of friendly whistle that you expect superstars to get. And while he’ll likely be criticized for missing those jumpers, it’s important to remember that the Orange would not have been in a position to win the game had it not been for Ennis.

It was a microcosm of the Syracuse season.

For the last three months, the Orange had made an unfortunate habit out of playing down to their opponent, struggling to shoot from the perimeter and relying on Ennis to bail them out down the stretch.

Ennis just ran out of big buckets.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.